One of the biggest headaches of dieting is navigating grocery stores and restaurants to get exactly what you need to succeed. While this may be tough at first, all it takes is a little bit of practice. Today I’m going to tell you why fast food can work for keto, which restaurants in Alabama are my go-to picks for keto fast food, and rank my 3 favorite keto-friendly salads from those restaurants. Let’s dive right in.

Is fast food ok for keto?

This is a question I get a lot, and for a good reason. When you go to a restaurant and purchase food that you didn’t make, you’re not only trading money for convenience, but you’re also trading your peace of mind and control of ingredients for convenience. This can be hit-or-miss, depending on the restaurant you decide to go to. Obviously, cheaper fast food restaurants (McDonald’s and Burger King, for example) are not going to offer the quality of ingredients that some other higher-priced restaurants (Chicken Salad Chick and Zaxby’s) do. Always check nutritional guides online to see exactly what’s in your food (and, of course, the net carb counts).

Fast-food and fast-casual restaurants are more likely to use additives and fillers to make their food taste better. You’ll likely run into some MSG, or monosodium glutamate, which is notorious for making food taste too good to put down. We want to avoid added sugars, fillers, and MSG where we can, but it’s hard to do that when you don’t have total control of the ingredients. Sit-down style restaurants may give you some more options and use cleaner ingredients, but depending on the location, it may be hard to get transparency about exactly what’s in the food you’re eating.

That being said, I think that if you’re in a pinch, it’s not a bad idea to do your best at a fast food restaurant. On any diet, if you’re hungry, I think you should eat. Don’t starve yourself for anything, including weight loss. There are definitely options for you on the menu of even the cheapest of restaurants. It just takes some trial-and-error to get your order right.

Always remember

Low-carb and keto options may not be the norm at some of these places. If the servers look at you like you’re crazy for asking them to hold the bun, keep your cool. And if they get it wrong the first time, politely ask for it to be corrected. Speaking as someone who used to work in food service, those people are not paid enough to hear your complaints. Just be a nice human and you’ll get good service (and food) in return.

Best fast food places in Alabama for keto

If I’m given the power to select the restaurant we’re going to, you bet your ass that I’m going to say one of these places. I’ll also share my 2 favorite orders from each place with you.

Cook Out

Order A: Big double, cheddar style; 2 bacon ranch wraps for the side; diet coke to drink. Once you get your order, dump the insides of the sandwich and wraps into a bowl and enjoy! It’s like a big bacon ranch cheeseburger salad. Oh, and toss those carbs in the trash. I don’t recommend ordering things from here “without the bread” because their survers have no idea what to do with that information. Is it food waste? Yes. But sometimes that’s what we have to do for delicious keto food. sigh

Order B: Same as Order A, except instead of the cheeseburger, order a chicken club sandwich, cheddar style

Zaxby’s

Order A: Grilled cobb zalad, no toast or fried onions, ranch or mediterranean dressing; cherry sprite zero. Ask them to put blackened seasoning on the chicken.

Order B: Traditional wing meal, tongue torch sauce on the side, celery instead of fries; lime dasani unsweetened sparkling water. Ask them to put blackened seasoning on the wings.

Chicken Salad Chick

Order A: Trio with Kickin’ Kay Lynne, Dixie Chick, and Lemon Basil; Coke Zero.

Order B: Quick Chick (any of the top 3 flavors OR Buffalo Barclay). 

Which Wich

Order A: Wicked Salad, ranch dressing; coke zero.

Order B: Grinder Lettuce Wrap; coke zero.

Julia’s Buffet

Order A: (this is my only order because, duh, buffet) Baked chicken, steamed cabbage; DIY Salad; unsweet tea.

Top 3 keto salads in Alabama

 I’m sharing my favorite salads with you because they’re always fresh, always delicious, and they’re the least likely to have added fillers in them. Keep in mind that they may have sweetened the proteins in marinades. Always check nutrition facts before ordering to be sure that you’ve ordered what you want.

1. Firehouse Subs Hook And Ladder Salad

This one is SO GOOD and doesn’t lack on flavor compared to the actual sandwich. It’s really big, which means it’s really filling. It comes with turkey, ham, romaine, tomato, bell pepper, cucumber, pepperoncini, and mozzerella. The whole salad is 370 calories before dressing, and I think I’ve ordered Ranch and Italian in the past. Both very good. It’s my absolute favorite fast food salad.

2. Zaxby’s Grilled Cobb or Grilled Caesar Zalad

All right, I know I mentioned the first one above, but it bears repeating. This is a great salad, and the latter is equally as good.

The Cobb will come with romaine/iceberg mix, cucumbers, tomatoes, cheese, bacon, egg, chicken, and dressing. Ask them to hold the toast and fried onions. The Caesar will come with romaine, parmesan, bacon, chicken, and dressing. Ask them to hold the croutons.

3. Ruby Tuesday Salad Bar

I’m fully aware that this is a sit-down restaurant, but I’m going to count the salad bar in here because all of the ingredients are ready. It is fast food. And it’s delicious! You can totally customize here and walk away with one (or many) extravagant salad for the price. This is definitely one of my favorite places to come fill up on some salad.

Wrapping it up

In short, yes, you can eat fast food on keto, but know that you’re not always going to get the cleanest ingredients out there. You definitely have more control of your foods in your own kitchen. Before you go, research the nutrition facts and ingredients of the foods you want to order. And if you’re short on ideas, type in “keto at (restaurant name)” on Google and you’re bound to find something good there.

Have any favorites you’d like to add? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

<3 RKF